Monday, August 1, 2011

Review #104: The Complete Peanuts

From time to time we'll break from our regular group review format and check in with the kiddos One-on-One to see what they've been reading on their own.  Today we hear from Gracie!

Dad:  Hello Gracie.
Gracie (age 11):  Hi Daddy.
Dad:  What have you been reading?
Gracie:  Peanuts!  The Complete Peanuts collection.  With good ol' Charlie Brown.
Dad:  The complete collection!  Do you know how long that comic strip ran?
Gracie:  Forever.  Ha ha ha!
Dad:  Where are we finding these books?
Gracie:  You are getting them for me from the library.
Dad:  We are so lucky that our library has been collecting these.  They're really expensive books, and we'd probably never see them otherwise.  How many volumes have you read?
Gracie:  All 15 books that they have so far.
Dad:  The publisher is working their way through the series, and so far they've released all the comics from 1950 through 1980.  That's 31 years worth!  That's over 11,000 individual episodes!
Gracie:  Ho ho ho hah!  My goal is to read all of the Peanuts comics ever made.  That's my dream.
Dad:  So, would you consider yourself a Charlie Brown expert with 11,000 episodes under your belt?
Gracie:  Oh yeah.  You could ask me anything.
Dad:  Tell us how the strip was different at the beginning than it turned out later on.
Gracie:  Well, a few characters were deleted, and a ton of new ones were added.  Violet, Patty, and Shermy went away.  Also, at the beginning Snoopy just ate and slept and didn't think at all.  It was two or three books before he started having thought bubbles.  Now he likes to play tennis and go to Woodstock's New Year's parties.
Dad:  Lots of new characters get introduced as babies, don't they?
Gracie:  Lucy was a little baby.  Schroeder was a baby.  Linus was a baby.  Sally was a baby.  When Sally was born, Charlie Brown ran out of the house... "Guys! I'm a father!  No wait - my dad is a father!  Again!"
Dad:  Do you have a favorite character?
Gracie:  Lucy.  Because Baby Lucy was just like Baby Me.  But now she's the bossy person who has to have her way all the time.
Dad:  A great role model...
Gracie:  Then there's Linus who has a blanket and sucks his thumb.  He's babyish, but he's really, really smart.  And he always quotes from the Bible.
Dad:  Who else?
Gracie:  Charlie Brown!  He's the one who thinks, "Life is going bad... I'm an awful person... Nothing good ever happens to me..."
Dad:  Would you be friends with him?
Gracie:  I would.  I love him.  My love for him goes to the ceiling of a skyscraper.  But nothing good ever happens to him ever.  Once he won a race -- that's probably the only thing he's ever won.  And the prize was 5 free haircuts...
Dad:  Ha!
Gracie:  He's only got a twist of hair in front.  And he's like, "Five free haircuts?  I don't have much hair to cut!  And even if I did... my dad is a barber!"
Dad:  Poor Charlie Brown.
Gracie:  Yeah, nothing good ever happens to him.  He's always getting teased for his perfectly round head.
Dad:  Tell me about Snoopy.
Gracie:  Snoopy!  He's the dog, and he doesn't know Charlie Brown's name.  He's always like, "Who? You mean that round headed kid that feeds me..."
Dad:  Ha ha -- I read the one when Charlie Brown comes back from the hospital...
Gracie:  Yeah!  And he's like, "Snoopy!  I'm finally here!  I missed you so bad that whole time!  I'm so glad to see you again!"  Then after he leaves, Snoopy thinks, "Now I remember... He's that round headed kid that used to feed me."
Dad:  Poor, poor Charlie Brown.
Gracie:  Snoopy has a lot of identities: Joe Cool, Joe Sporty, Joe Astronaut, World War I Flying Ace...  He's got thousands of disguises.
Dad:  Out of all 11,000 comics you've read, do you have a favorite?  Or is it too hard to pick one?
Gracie:  Well, I have a favorite book.
Dad:  Oh?  Which one?
Gracie:  Actually, it's one where all these bad things happen.  Charlie Brown gets hit by a car.  And he almost got fired from being a crossing guard.  Then Linus and Lucy move away.  And Woodstock has to fly South so Snoopy might not see him again ever.
Dad:  Goodness, why so many sad things?
Gracie:  Apparently a lot of bad things were going on in the author's life.  Schulz. 
Something Schulz.
Dad:  Charles.
Gracie:  Yeah.  A lot of bad things were going on in his life, so he expressed them in his drawings.
Dad:  Why did you like that book so much if so many awful things happened?
Gracie:  I don't know.  Because every time the terrible things ended, he'd have one of the funniest comics in history.
Dad:  Now... "Charles."  Charles Schulz...  Charlie Brown...  Do you think it's significant that they have the same name?
Gracie:  Maybe things didn't go well in his life.  Or maybe he was bald.  Or maybe Charles Schulz had a round head.
Dad:  These were made a long time ago -- some of them 60 years ago.  Why do you think you dig something so old?  Does it say something about you?  Or does it say something about the timelessness of these comics?
Gracie:  I live for the classics.
Dad:  Do you think other kids would like them too, or do you think you're an oddball?
Gracie:  Out of my friends, half of them don't even know who Charlie Brown is.  They know Snoopy and Woodstock.  But I had to explain Charlie Brown.
Dad:  Poor Charlie Brown.
Gracie:  But my friends would love them too if they could read the books.
Dad:  Is this your favorite comic?  Do you know any other comic strips?
Gracie:  This is the order of my favorite comic strips: I like the "Peanuts" comics, "Little Nemo in Slumberland," and "Calvin and Hobbes."
Dad:  I think you have good taste.  Now, are you going to try to draw a new Peanuts episode for your Fan Art this week?
Gracie:  No, I'm afraid I might come up with an idea, and not realize it is actually one that I've already read.  And plus, Charles Schulz doesn't want anyone else making his comic.
Dad:  Tell everybody about your birthday party last week...
Gracie:  The theme was Charlie Brown!  We decorated things like Charlie Brown.  I drew faces on balloons.  Isaac decorated with streamers that were zigzags like on Charlie Brown's shirt.  And we had Charlie Brown games that I made up, like "Pin the Frown on Charlie Brown."  And you made a Snoopy cake.
Dad:  Do you want to say anything to the people compiling these books?  Because that's a BIG undertaking for the publisher... committing to every Peanuts comic ever made, coming out with another volume every few months.
Gracie:  I don't know how many people read these books... but one girl LOVES them.  Thank you for making these!
Dad:  Real quick... What are you reading in the meantime while you wait for them to release the next volume?
Gracie:  I'm reading the books you got me for my birthday.  "Year of the Dog" and "Year of the Rat" by Grace Lin.  They're good.
Dad:  Thanks for the one-on-one chat, Gracie!  I love you!
Gracie:  And I love Charlie Brown!
Dad:  What?  Thanks a lot...
Gracie:  Ha ha ha!
Dad:  You make me feel like poor ol' Charlie Brown.
Gracie:  Hee hee hee!
Dad:  I'm certainly never going to kick a football that you're holding.
Gracie:  Ha ha!  I love Charlie Brown AND you!

the Peanuts gang, by Gracie

Author/Illustrator: Charles Schulz
Comics Published: 1950-2000
Books Published, 2004-present: Fantagraphics Books
Like them?  Here they are


Heidi Noel said...

FABULOUS! I really enjoy Charles Schulz and Peanuts. Your picture is perfect and would be great to frame and hang on the wall.

Very creative party idea. We do a lot of book party themes in my house, too.

Carrie S said...

What a great review! Love Gracie's drawing too. Thanks for writing it and posting the pictures. Also, thanks, Fantagraphics, for publishing these books!

ldsjaneite said...

Your children are such great artists!

Richele said...

I have a new favorite review! Thanks for sharing, Gracie - and happy belated birthday!

TeenyGozer said...

Hee! I read Charlie Brown when I was Gracie's age... they were a lot newer then! My mom used to buy paperback books of Charles Shultz's cartoons. I loved how cute and puppy-ish Snoopy started out looking, with round ears and a pointed nose.

Best review I ever read!

Emmy said...

I recently read the Complete Peanuts 1974 to 1975. I love Peanuts and doing a review on that was really awesome. Good job with your drawing, Gracie!

Esme Raji Codell said...

This blog is such a treasure. Thank you.

Carolyn said...

I am a first-grade teacher who absolutely loves your reviews! I read to my students a lot and get many great references from your blog, so thanks!!

Ondrej from James Patterson Book List said...

This style of reviewing is ingenius!

lifeexplorerdiscovery said...

I remember getting into Peanuts when I was 9 years old about two years before Charles Schulz died. They had this tape held, raggedy little pocket books with yellow brownish pages. Peanuts taught me what "c'mon" meant lol.

My love for Peanuts and Garfield led me to a Waldenbooks in the early 2000s to get one of their books. They were too expensive. Went to the sales section and discovered Calvin and Hobbes books for only $5 which I thought was my imagination.

I own the complete calvin and hobbes and also own the 60th anniversary of Peanuts. I did borrow a Complete Peanuts book from the library but couldn't get through it because it became too repetitious to me (as well as not having the time).